A Big Name Barely Makes the Cover of His Own Video Game

Tiger Woods isn't on the cover of the "Historic Edition" of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, the fifth such box—special or main edition—in which the game's titular star has not appeared alone, or at all, in the past four years.

Bobby Jones, who designed Augusta National Golf Course, and Bubba Watson, who won the Masters Tournament played there this year, will grace the cover of this special edition. (Jones' fabled "Calamity Jane" putter was on the cover of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13's "Masters Edition," which featured no humans.)

For visual pairing, it helps that Jones hit righthanded and Watson is a lefty. The historic edition will also include five extra courses, plus Augusta's charming Par 3 course—which was free on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 but has been a premium inclusion since. One of the historic edition's courses will be Augusta National as it appeared in 1934, the first year of The Masters.

We can therefore assume that Jones will be a playable golfer. His Grand Slam of 1930—winning the United States and British Open tournaments and both nations' amateur championships—is the basis for the modern feat of winning four major tournaments in a single year, never since accomplished.

Glancing at this cover, the title of the game appears to be, frankly, "Masters" or "EA Sports Masters," given the prominence of the logos and the small typeface and secondary placement given to "Tiger Woods PGA Tour," the series' actual title. But the cover art for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13's "Masters Edition" was laid out in the same way.

EA Sports in a statement, said that this does not represent any distancing of the game from Woods, reminding that the standard edition cover features both the game's full name, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, and Woods alongside Arnold Palmer, one of the sport's most accomplished stars.

But the spread of shared and alternate covers, in the past four years, to me does point to a game that has to start marketing itself beyond the appeal of a single star, especially one who turns 37 on Dec. 30. From 1998 to 2009, Woods was the sole cover star, as well he should have been. No other golfer could have sold a video game on name alone in that span. But that can't last.

Even into his retirement Tiger Woods will remain on the cover of this game the same way John Madden is on the cover of EA Sports' NFL game. The relationships are too strong—especially because EA was one of the few major brands to stand by Woods through the nadir of his personal scandals.

But as kids today think first of a video game when they hear the name Madden, tomorrow's may do so when they hear Tiger Woods. These cover choices are a push in that direction.